The 400 Mawozo gang abducted the group, which included elderly people, in Ganthier. This commune lies east of Port-au-Prince's capital, Haitian police inspector Frantz champagne told The Associated Press. Five priests and two nuns were kidnapped by the gang earlier in Haiti this year.
According to authorities, the gang's name roughly translated to 400 "inexperienced men" and controls Croix-des-Bouquets, which includes Ganthier. They are responsible for kidnappings, carjackings, and extorting business owners.
Christian Aid Ministries, Ohio, said that the kidnapped group included 16 U.S. citizens as well as one Canadian citizen. This makes a total of five children and seven women, and five men. According to the organization, they were visiting an orphanage.
Christian Aid Ministries released a statement saying, "Join Us in Praying for the Hostages, the Kidnappers, and the Families, Friends, and Churches of the Those Affected," "As an organisation, we pledge this situation to God and trust Him for His guidance."
Haiti is again facing a spike of gang-related kidnappings. This has been happening since President Jovenel Moise was shot to death at his private residence July 7, and after a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in August killed more than 2,200 people.
A Haitian police wanted poster was issued for Wilson Joseph, the gang's leader. He faces murder, attempted murder and theft of autos, as well as the hijacking trucks transporting goods. "Lanmo Sanjou" is his nickname, which means "death does not know when it will come."
Joseph could not immediately be reached for comment but has uploaded videos detailing the crimes that the gang is accused of in recent years.
Wilson claimed that the incident in which the gang attacked a bus carrying passengers and killed an infant was not their fault as the driver of the bus refused to stop. A more recent video shows him holding a bottle surrounded by heavily armed men. Another June video shows people fleeing a church as gunfire broke out outside. The gang is accused of setting fire to cars and raiding the area.
Under anonymity, a senior U.S. official said that the United States was in contact with Haitian authorities to resolve the matter.
Christian Aid Ministries was under scrutiny after a former worker in Haiti was convicted in Ohio of felony sexual abuse of minors. Jeriah Mast (40) is currently serving a nine year sentence in an Ohio prison. According to The Daily Record newspaper, Ohio, Mast also molested at most 30 boys in Haiti during the course of his sentence.
Authorities say ransom demands from gangs ranged from just a few hundred dollars to over $1 million amid the increase in kidnappings.
A deacon was murdered last month in front of a Port-au-Prince church. His wife was also kidnapped. This is just one of many people who were abducted over the past few months.
According to a report by the United Nations Integrated Office (BINUH) last month, at least 328 kidnappings were reported in Haiti to the National Police within the first eight months in 2021. This compares with a total 234 in 2020.
As they become more powerful, gangs are accused of kidnapping children, doctors, officers, and busloads upon passengers. A man claiming to be the leader of the 400 Mawozo gang told a radio station in April that they had kidnapped five priests, two nuns, and three family members of one priest that month. Later, they were released.
Haitians have been forced to make detours to avoid gang-related violence and kidnappings. Others simply stay home. This means that Charles Pierre, a Port-au-Prince moto-taxi driver, has less money to support his family of children.
He said, "People aren't going out on the streets." "We are unable to find people to transport."
Monday's protest will be held to condemn the country's insecurity.
"Political turmoil and gang violence surges, deteriorating socioeconomic circumstances -- including food insecurity, malnutrition -- all contribute towards the worsening humanitarian situation," BINUH stated in its report. "An overstretched, under-resourced police force cannot solve the security problems in Haiti."
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved Friday's extension of the U.N. diplomatic mission in Haiti.
The missionaries were kidnapped just days after U.S. officials visited Haiti. They promised more resources to Haiti's National Police, including $15 million to reduce gang violence. This year, thousands of Haitians have been forced into temporary shelters that are increasingly unsafe.
Uzra Zeya (U.S. undersecretary of state for civil security, democracy and human rights) was one of the people who met with Haiti's chief police officer.
She recently tweeted that "Dismantling violent Gangs is Vital to Haitian Stability and Citizen Security."